We all make decisions, all day every day – what will I wear? What will I have for lunch? Some are small decisions, and some are large decision. It is problem solving which involves choosing between two or more options. Decision making helps the organisation to face and tackle new problems and challenges. Quick and correct decisions help to solve problems and to accept new challenges, and a key function of success. But some people can find it harder than others.
Do you have a decision-making process, or do you flip a coin or toss a dart at your options?
Do you use your ‘gut feelings’? These are a combination of your past experiences and your ethics or values. It is worth looking closely at your gut feelings and working out why you feel this way and is it the right decision to make base on your feelings.
What about making decisions on the facts? This usually involves a more structured approach and you can run into trouble if you don’t have all or enough of the facts. The opposite can be true as well, that is having too much information, often seen in business because people have a vested interest in the result. You can be bombarded with information and get overwhelmed. If the decision is high risk or would have far reaching consequences, what then?
- You need to use your problem-solving skills as well as your decision-making skills at the same time.
- Use a systematic approach so that you do not overlook an important factor – weigh the evidence, even get another opinion
- Research each option for yourself – make sure you fully understand the issue, think about the risk, and the consequences for each option
- Create alternatives or plan B’s for each – identify the alternatives that suit you
- Collect all the best ideas and information and set it out in a logical manner, you can use a flip chart or a whiteboard or post-it notes
- Go over the options you have narrowed down, carefully
- Select the best option or plan
- Take action – communicate your decision and implement the plan.
- Most importantly review your decision for its effectiveness and make changes when necessary
If it is a team decision about a business issue, what do I do?
- Get the team together
- Explain the issue or situation
- Ask why and keep asking why till you have an answer, but know when to stop asking or it could go on for days
Tools to help the process
Brainstorming – everyone can contribute to the decision and they will be more invested in the action and results if they are part of the discussion
SWOT analysis – this will give you the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for the decision options. Set this out and you will clearly see the way forward.
Ethics – very important to clarify acceptable behaviour this includes fairness and trust. You may have an option to solve the problem and make a decision, but if it adversely affects others, it is not the right decision.
Evaluate Outcomes – always monitor the results of decisions; be ready to adapt your plan as necessary, or to switch to another potential solution if your chosen solution does not work out the way you expected.
The whole decision-making process is a chain where one decision taken at one point or at one level can have far reaching implications to the organization, other people, or yourself. Decisions can speed up or slow down how work in done such as an extra step in the process or automation of a process.
So, when faced with decision making, weather for problem solving or opportunities it is essential to follow the process, the hallmark of a good decision maker.